Dave Aitel is CEO of Immunity Inc., an offensive security firm that consults for Fortune 500s and government agencies. He is a former "security scientist" for the NSA and a past contractor for DARPA's Cyber Fast Track program. His firm specializes in vulnerability research, penetration testing and network testing tools. His views don't necessarily reflect the opinions of Ars Technica.
What occurred with the recently disclosed breach of the Democratic National Committee servers, and the dumping of stolen data on a WordPress site, is more than an act of cyber espionage or harmless mischief. It meets the definition of an act of cyberwar, and the US government should respond as such.
The claims by “Guccifer 2.0”—that a lone hacker carried out this attack—are not believable. Of course, anything is possible, but the attack looks to be an operation conducted by Russian intelligence services. Had this been a “normal” operation—that is, covert intel gathering by Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service or any other foreign intelligence service (as the Chinese have done in past election seasons)—it would be business as usual. To be honest, the US government would not really be justified in denouncing it, as it does the same thing. But what makes this attack very different—and crosses the line—is the Russian team’s decision to dump the Clinton campaign’s opposition strategy on the public Web, presumably for the dual purpose of both spreading misinformation about the party responsible for the breach and interfering with the Clinton campaign.